Singer Surname Genealogy

Singer is more likely to have German or Jewish origins; or it can be an
surname.  In each case the root is
occupational, a singer.
The Yiddish zinger
is the name for a cantor in a synagogue.
German names can be Saenger or Senger. Singer in English comes
from the Old English singan,
meaning “to sing,” and would describe a professional
singer, perhaps someone who toured with a travelling theater.  Singer
or Sanger
here would be male.  The
female equivalent is Sangster.

Singer Resources on

Singer Ancestry

is a name mainly to be found in Bavaria and Austria today.
The numbers here are around 15,000. Immigrant
data for America in the 19th
century showed that 75% of the Singers came from Germanic lands. But the Yiddish diaspora at that time stretched
into Poland and Russia, which is where, for instance, the writer I.B.
came from.

Singer name in England is mainly to be found in the southwest of the
country, in Somerset and stretching into Wiltshire (where the spelling
can be

There were many Singers in
Frome.  John Webb Singer was born there
and that was where he established his brass foundry in 1851.  He
made brass ornaments for local churches and became better known as the
Movement led to an increasing demand for these ornaments.
George Singer
the bicycle and automobile pioneer, was born not too
far away in Stinsford, Dorset.  His history was recounted in Kevin
Atkinson’s 2008 book The Singer Story.

Jewish.  In 1837
Julius Singer arrived in London from Hungary and traded as a
clothier.  His son Simeon became a
leader of the Jewish community in England in the later 19th century and
of the widely-used Authorized Daily Prayer Book; while
Simeon’s son Charles was a prominent British historian of
science and technology.

Scotland.  Another concentration of the
Singer name in
the UK was to be found in Aberdeen.  The
name here might have originally been Sengoir, with these Singers
having been Huguenot refugees who had settled in Aberdeen as well as in
county Down in Ireland.  Adam Singer
dates from about 1700 in Aberdeen.

America.  Richard Sanger came from Wiltshire on the Confidence to New England in 1638 and
settled in Watertown.  His descendants
remained there or in neighboring
for the next two hundred years.

Singers entered mainly via Pennsylvania in the 18th century.  The first mention appears to have been a
Richard Sanger, a Philadelphia merchant, who died there in 1726.  Many were to be found in Lancaster
county.  Michael
arrived in 1750 and settled after the Revolutionary
War in Lebanon county.  Christian Singer,
born in Germantown there in 1777, became an early settler in Jackson
Monroe county.

name started to appear in upstate New York records in the 1760’s.   John Singer was recorded in Pownal in
is now Vermont in 1765.  A later John
Singer from Pownal was orphaned during the Revolutionary War as a young
boy and
ended up in a refugee camp in Canada.  As
an adult he successfully petitioned for land in Clinton township in the
region.  He and his wife Susannah raised
eleven children

came to Rensselaer county in New York in 1803, having changed
his name
from Reisinger after leaving his home in Heidelberg, Germany.  His son Isaac, born in 1811, ran away from
home at the age of twelve.  He was always
an experimenter and turned his hand in later life to sewing machines. While others had patented sewing machines
before him, his sewing machine – which he brought to the market in 1851
– achieved
more success than the others as it was more practical, more adaptable
to home
use, and could be bought on hire-purchase.

was on his way to fame and fortune.
He was to have fives “wives” and twenty two children. Edgar Collins Singer, one of the investors
behind the torpedo ship Hunley that sunk
in Charleston harbor in 1864, is believed to have been his nephew.  The Singer Company
continued until 2000.

Later came Jewish immigrants from the Yiddish diaspora,
prominent among them being:

  • Isidore
    Singer, born in Moravia (in the present Czech Republic), who arrived in
    York in 1895 where he raised money for the Jewish
    that he had envisioned.  He
    subsequently edited the twelve volume work
  • Jacques Singer, born in Poland,
    who came to America in 1921, settling in Jersey City.
    He, like his father, was a symphony
    conductor.  His wife Leslie was a concert
    pianist.  His children Lori and Marc
    became well-known actors.  
  • Isaac Bashevis
    Singer, born near Warsaw in Poland, who came to New York in 1935 as the
    threat was rising.  His Yiddish stories
    in the Jewish Daily Forward earned
    him a devoted readership. 
  • and Rabbi Joseph Singer,
    from Pilzno in
    Poland, who fled the Nazi threat in 1939 and brought his Hasidic
    Judaism to New York.

Canada.  Abraham and Bella Singer were Jewish immigrants
from Poland who came to Calgary in the early 1900’s.
Their son Jack Singer, the third of four
children, grew rich in commercial real estate.
He ended up owning a Hollywood movie studio and hobnobbing with
entertainment industry elite there

Singer Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Singer Names

Isaac Singer was the founder of the Singer Sewing Machine Company
in 1851.

George Singer
was a
19th century cycle manufacturer who was a pioneer of both cycle and
motor car
development in England.

Isidore Singer was the founder and editor
of the Jewish Encyclopedia.
Isaac Bashevis Singer was the Polish-born Yiddish
writer in America awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1978.
Frederick Sanger is a British
biochemist who was twice awarded the Nobel Prize for

Select Singers Today

  • 5,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Somerset)
  • 12,000 in America (most numerous in New York)
  • 3,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)




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